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Theodorus Bailey Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: 148825
Date: 2001-01-01

Biographical History

Admiral Theodorus Bailey was born in Chauteaugay, New York on April 12, 1805. He received his academic education in Plattsburg, New York and, at the age of thirteen, received a warrant as a midshipman in the Navy. His first cruise was in the corvette Cyane which provided a convoy for the first black colonists to Liberia, settling them on the Island of Sherboo, off the coast of Africa. During this cruise Bailey participated in the capture of a brig and six schooners which were illegally engaged in the slave trade.

Following several years of apprenticeship at sea, Bailey received the store-ship Lexington as his first command in 1846. It was during this period that he participated in the blockade and eventual seizure of lower California during the Mexican War. His next command, on the sloop-of-war St. Mary, detailed him to the Pacific Squadron and led him on an around-the-world cruise. During this time he was involved in the removal of the United States Consul in the Canary Islands, and was instrumental in quelling the Panama Riots of 1856.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Admiral Bailey tendered his services to the Union and was assigned to active duty as commander of the frigate Colorado in the blockade of Florida. In 1862, he was made second-in-command under David Farragut in the attack on New Orleans, Louisiana. Admiral Bailey led the Union fleet up the Mississippi River and accepted the surrender of New Orleans.

From 1862 to 1864, Admiral Bailey was commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron in the Gulf of Mexico, and subsequently had charge of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy Yard. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1866, and retired from active duty to accept a position on the Navy Retiring Board. He died February 10, 1877 in Washington, D.C.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Theodorus Bailey Papers consists of correspondence, memorabilia, legal and financial records, and official records.

Correspondence, the bulk of the collection, deals with the Admiral's career as a naval officer. Noteworthy correspondence includes letters from Napoleon Collins and Henry Pinkney, both dated July 30, 1842, concerning a duel between H.H. Rhodes and Admiral Bailey. Also of interest is a letter that describes the attack on New Orleans written by Admiral Bailey to an unknown acquaintance on May 5, 1862, and a letter, dated November 7, 1865, from William G. McEwan to William Oland Bourn, editor of Soldiers Friend, enclosing a manuscript describing McEwan's participation in the August 5, 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama. In addition, two letters addressed to Admiral Bailey from John W. Hogg and George D. Allen, dated July 8 and July 18, 1873 respectively, deal with the distribution of prize monies due from the capture of rebel privateers during the War. Letters from Admiral Bailey to his son, Edmund S., during the war years, also cover this topic thoroughly. A complete index to the correspondence can be found at the end of this inventory.

Memorabilia includes biographical material, engraving, obituaries, and miscellaneous material. An undated holograph biographical sketch, including an account of the Admiral's ancestors, comprises the biographical material. The engravings portray the Admiral when he was promoted to commander in 1849. The miscellaneous material, undated, is a poem, "Lord Lovell," and a copy of it made by Sallie Bailey.

Legal and financial records consists of deeds to property owned by Admiral Bailey and receipts for life insurance and letters received.

Official records includes circulars, general orders, petitions, proclamations, reports, and miscellaneous material. Circulars, 1854-1862, are military suggestions or statements and are in chronological order, as are the general orders, 1862-1864, which involve prescribed methods or directives for military action. The material included as petitions, 1868, and reports, 1869, deals with the attack on New Orleans which occurred April 24, 1862, and a resultant misrepresentation of the facts concerning Admiral Bailey's participation. Miscellaneous items, 1857-1872, consist of legal papers, requisitions, weights of the USS Colorado at mean draft 23'3, lists of prizes captured by the East Coast Blockade Squadron, and British and American Claims (Wm. Bowman vs. U.S.).

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically with envelopes included at the end of the section. A complete index to the correspondence can be found at the end of this inventory. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by subject matter. Legal and financial records are organized chronologically. Official records are arranged alphabetically by type.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bailey, Theodorus, 1805-1877.
Farragut, David Glasgow, 1801-1870.
McKean, William W. (William Wister), 1800-1865.
Porter, David D. (David Dixon), 1813-1891.
Temple, William Grenville.
Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878.

Corporate Bodies

United States. -- Navy. -- Officers.


Admirals -- United States.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Theodorus Bailey Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1969.

Table of Contents



Legal and financial records

Official records

Index to correspondence


Index to correspondence

Letters are indexed by sender only. For ease of reading, names with many dates have been divided by year. So for example, there are two entries for William Wister McKean: "McKean, Wm. Wister, 1861" and "McKean, Wm. Wister, 1862."